Posts Tagged ‘moose class action’

The premise sounds ridiculous, but maybe there’s more to it after all.  This quote from moose collision class action lawyer Ches Crosbie sums it up:

Six months ago when we launched this class action, most people in the province thought that we were a bit crazy.

Count most observers from outside the province as sharing that sentiment.  In two previous less-than-scholarly posts, I mocked the idea of a class action seeking relief against the government of Newfoundland and Labrador on behalf of people injured in car collisions with moose.  See entries dated October 19, 2010, Danger! Moose Crossing, and January 12, 2011, Moose Collision Litigation: The Wave of the Future in Canadian Class Actions?  

I stand corrected.

According to Sue Bailey of The Canadian Press, the trial judge has decided to certify the moose collision case as a class action.  In fact, the case for certification was evidently so compelling that the main concern raised by the judge was whether the limitation to persons hospitalized as a result of moose collisions made the class too narrow.  The judge has reportedly asked the parties to consider whether the class definition should be expanded.

According to the article, the government did not resist the motion to certify the class, so perhaps it decided it would be better to take on the moose collision issue once and for all in a single case rather than having to face a flood of individual moose collision lawsuits.  Whatever the reason, it looks like the issue of whether the province was negligent in its introduction of moose and its management of the species after introduction is moving toward a decision on the merits.

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If you’re a Canadian class action lawyer looking for next big thing in class actions, moose collision litigation was looking pretty promising.  As mentioned in this October 19 CAB entry, a class action was filed against the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador  for alleged negligence in introducing moose into the area early last century, causing an excessive number of collisions with vehicles today.

But according to an article today by Gavin Day, posted on the website of Dawson Creek, B.C. radio station 890CJDC, the trend isn’t likely to catch on in British Columbia.   The article points out that unlike in Eastern Canada, Moose are indigenous to B.C.  And don’t think changing the theory from negligent introduction to negligent population control of the moose already present is likely to work.  Day’s article quotes Gayle Hesse of the B.C. Wildlife Collision Prevention Program as saying “I think there are legal precedents already set for that [referring to prohibiting litigation against the government for failing to control moose population] in our province.”  Apparently B.C. courts have already considered the cutting-edge question of moose collision litigation and said, no thank you.

Presumably, there’s still hope in Manitoba, home of moose so vicious that they have become the mascot of a rough and tumble minor hockey league club:

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According to this article from The Canadian Press and this one from the Ottawa Citizen, a lawyer in St. Johns, Newfoundland is considering suing the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador on behalf of a would-be class of people injured in collisions with moose.  The theory would apparently be that the government was negligent in introducing moose into the nearly area a century ago, and that it was foreseeable that the introduction of the animals would lead to collisions with Hummers and Silverados.  The human-to-moose ratio in the province is just over 4 to 1.

Not being an expert on the finer points of Newfoundlandian (Newfoundlandish?) law, I cannot comment on the strengths or weaknesses of this case if it does go forward.  However, if the obvious defense strategies, like sovereign immunity, lack of proximate cause, or “come on Judge, you’ve got to be kidding me” don’t work, here’s a more radical possible defense: blame the moose.  After all, if they would just stop procreating, stick to the marshes, or use the crosswalks, then none of this would be happening.

For a more serious comparative discussion of the differences between Canadian and U.S. law regarding governmental liability for tort claims, see this CAB entry dated October 6, 2008.

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